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Referee given Liverpool game for first time since Virgil van Dijk VAR controversy

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David Coote has not been involved in a Liverpool game since failing to prompt a red card for Jordan Pickford’s tackle on Virgil van Dijk, but that will change on Wednesday.

Only once has Coote refereed a Reds game, that being the 1-1 draw with Burnley towards the end of the title-winning campaign of 2019/20.

That day saw the young official embroiled in a series of controversial decisions, most notably in overlooking a clear foul on Andy Robertson in the penalty area late on which saw the left-back ask: “What’s the point of having you in the middle?”

Coote was also responsible for mistakes in the 1-1 draw with Man United in 2019, while he was forced to apologise for mistakenly judging Giovani Lo Celso’s stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta in Tottenham‘s 2-1 loss to Chelsea as accidental.

He has not taken charge of a Liverpool game since that draw with Burnley, but Coote was at the heart of one of the most baffling decisions in the club’s recent history soon after.

When Pickford scythed Van Dijk down early into the Merseyside derby this time last year, Coote was watching on from the VAR booth at Stockley Park.

With referee Michael Oliver needing a second opinion, Coote completely ignored Pickford’s challenge on Van Dijk and instead focused on a marginal offside decision, with the goalkeeper escaping sanctions and the centre-back facing ACL surgery.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Everton's Mason Holgate reacts after fouling Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

During that game, Coote also ruled out a late goal from Jordan Henderson, with the club requesting an investigation into the use of the technology in the derby.

Coote was briefly taken off referee and VAR duties, only to be appointed as VAR for Liverpool’s meeting with Leicester a month later – a decision that was later overturned.

Since then, he has not been referee or VAR for a Liverpool game; he has refereed a further 24 games in the Premier League, though only 10 of those have included the established ‘big six’ and none between two of those clubs.

But Wednesday night will see him given the whistle for the Reds’ League Cup fourth-round clash with Preston – an appointment that has been met with little opposition.

It is certainly an interesting decision, though there is considerably less risk in a game of this profile, which could give Coote an opportunity to redeem himself.

Hopefully, there will be no need for a focus on refereeing decisions at full-time, as Liverpool look to book their place in the fifth round.

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